Expecting Zombies, Meeting Friends...
I went out tonight for awhile. The family was away for an overnight visit to friends, except for me. Rare thing. So I was free.
I had a fine, fine dinner of leftovers and red wine then went out to the local bookstore to see how many books they'd sold lately.
Lo and behold I ran into my brother and cousin. That was weird enough. I bet I was the only person to do that there this week. In the parking lot I saw a big old black truck that I thought was my bro's but it wasn't, but then there he was anyway. I've never seen him here. He's a rangy ruffian who lives in the sticks. Here he was in this yuppy bookstore wearing his bomber hat and an Elmer's Peninsula Construction jacket that says "Ron" that he got for a buck at a thrift shop but which he says other construction guys want to buy off him coz it's so cool. It's like a Mighty Mac Bridge welder's jacket. My bro does crazy enough construction stuff to qualify. He might as well be walking iron girders up above the city.
My cuz, who's even bigger than my bro and just as scruffy, pointed me to a book about "the singularity" that says we're just about to hit the really steep uphill slope of technology. In ten years we won't have computers, coz they'll be INSIDE us. That kind of steep.
It was good to see them. They were wondering what I was doing out and about. (We're all lost when we leave the farm.) Because, truly, there's nowhere to go. I said I was checking out the bookstore then going to a nearby fancy bar for a beer. My bro said "Really, just like that? Think it'll be any fun? Hard to imagine." Then they went home.
I went to the bar. It's owned by the local indy wine-beer-cheese shop and bistro people. They're in a minimall nestled between car dealerships and other businesses that go under every year or so. It's bleak. It's also the closest bar to our house that serves local beer. I thought I'd check it out. Been there once before. Sure enough, there was a fancy crowd. I see a TV personality.
There is no bar snack food, no chips, no nuts, nobody eatin' nuttin at the bar. Very weird. I truly don't want to be weird but I need a snack. How can you have 50 people in a bar only drinking, no snacking? There's a fresh nuts shop downtown. Get nuts from them or go home, people. I need to carry nuts in my Manpurse, I tell ya.
There's a yuppy gal next to me who I say Hi to. She's drinking a non-Martini. I ask about its colorfulness.
I sort out my snack problem with the bartender and then order something local and hoppy. A bottle of MBC IPA. I think about telling the bartender that I know the brewer but I don't.
I chat a bit with an insurance salesman car dealer looking guy next to me. I'm feeling adrift among the golfers.
Suddenly the two hippy guys who run the nextdoor wine-beer-cheese shop come in and stand nearby and order drinks.
They're talking to two clean-cut guys near us who get distracted by cellphones at about the same time. I walk over and say Hi to the shopkeeps. I've shopped their shop for years, but this is the first time I've seen them over drinks. One of them invited himself to dinner once when I asked him what wine to buy for venison and morels, but there was only enough for us two. So I finally to got to neighborly meet both shopkeeps. We had a nice chat which eventually swung around to complaining: in sum the indy wineshop report is that discounters are killing them and the legally-mandated middleman distro is neglecting them (hmmm, there's a legal pork set-up whose need is likely past). It seems like all our indy guys have left is KNOWLEDGE, value-added helpful style, the offering of great stuff close to hand, and the "buy local" key to sustainable culture. Heads-up, people!
One of the guys they're standing next to says "So did the bartender push that beer on ya?" I said "No way, it's one of my faves!" "Well that's good to hear because I'm the manager of the brewery!" Now, how about that! "Hey," I say, "you advertise in my mag!" His boss has been taking out an ad in OYB for years. He says "You're the OYB guy? I love your mag! And I love those magnet stickers. Well, great to meet ya!" Holy smokes, in the middle of minimallsville I bump into a fan and he makes my fave beer! Can't get much better, eh?
Turns out the guy next to him is the manager of the nextdoor quality restaurant (which goes with the wine'n'cheese shop that owns the bar). And the gal next to me knows them all. So I get to meet everybody.
The manager then mentions that their biz mentor is having dinner at the back of the bar. He's the guy who inspired the brewery and who got me into homebrewing and also took out OYB ads for his brewshop and kept pushing for more and more OYB way back in the day. I go back and say Hi to him. His wife says, "He keeps reading your mag out loud but then doesn't let me have it."
After a nice visit I go back to the front and the brewery manager says to everyone, "I get stacks of mags, from everyone, and yours I read cover to cover." I mean, he wasn't acting like an advertiser at all. He was a READER.
Turns out the gal is a local graphic designer. I know the newspapers she works for. She wanted a mag. I got one for her out of the rusty ex-Hippo catering minivan. Turns out her boyfriend is the bartender. I overheard him asking a wineshop guy if he wanted to try some of Short's new Reserve. Now, I knew about Short's from my Ann Arbor cheese shop buddy because he wholesales it and brought a couple kegs of their IPA up to deer camp. It's a great obscure beer made hours away in the boondocks at a little bar---totally out of the way even for Michigan. Turns out the barkeep is from up there and his brother is a bartender at Short's. If that's not crazy enough, it's where my favorite gal singer sings every week. So I had a sample of the new Short's Reserve, too. It was tasty.
It was all very weird. It all worked out. Sheesh. Is this what happens when one goes to the bar?
Here I was, stuck in the middle of nowhere and I just went out for a beer at a bar where it seemed I knew no one and felt way out of place then I ran into like six people who kinda already knew me and who even appreciated what I was doing. That's just really weird.
(Another weird thing is that today I got a $10 check in the mail with no order. The check had the guy's ph# on it so I called him and asked him what it was for and he said, "Your mag is great, it's just cash...for you." ...Whoa.)
Maybe I just need to get out more. Publish more.